The bachelor project „Chemieraum“ is a concept for an interactive installation in exhibition space which allows teenagers to experiment within the field of chemistry on a basic level. They can analyse and discover molecules and atoms on an interactive screen guided by haptic and visual feedback.

„Chemieraum“ is an interactive media installation which should help kids and teenagers to experiment on a basic level in the field of Chemistry. With „chemieraum“, the world of molecules becomes interactive and graspable for the visitors”’. This project was done in collaboration with TUMlab, the University of Munich Laboratory. This is a lab for teachers and their pupils located at the Deutsche Museum.

The field of application of our media installation are museums, schools and institutions which are working in the field of chemistry. In our case it would be the TUMlab at Deutsche Museum. Our typical users are kids and teens who are a minimum age of 12 years. The common concept of up-front teaching should be ignored. We want to bring the interactive and playful approach back to chemical exhibitions. „Chemieraum“ should not be like a show experiment, it should provide knowlegde about the related content.

The installation consists of an interactive media table which is controlled by an haptic input device (puck). This is then linked together with a wall projection that displays the environment surrounding the movements that the user compiles on the table. The whole assemble is expandible and modular in the way of producing a cycle of orientation. Depending on the roomsize or the attendance the amount of units can be changed. First of all the young visitor starts the user experience with a initiatory interaction. As he steps into the room he only can see himself on the screen. The closer he gets to the installation the more he´s zooming inside his self till he reaches the level of molecules.

This is the starting point for further interaction, because the user will now interact at eye level with the elements inside the „chemieraum“.

The visitor navigates with a puck trough the interface. A introductory screen called „Guided Tour“ helps the user to understand what is possible. He can choose a molecule out of the „molecule library“ on the left side. On the right side he can build up or configurate his own substance by using the element out of the „construction kit of atoms“ which include five of the five basic elements (Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon and Sulfur). The projected picture on the wall contains additional information about the molecule. It supports the user by showing an image of the environment where the molecule occures in our everyday life. The different gaseous states of the shown molecules can be compared with each other by using the temperatur control.
During the interaction our novel input device, a puck, provides the visitor with a haptic feedback (haptic = regarding the sense of touch) in addition to the visual attraction. So the puck starts to vibrate stronger when the temperatur is rising and changes color depending on which atom is selected. Supplementary to the molecular modelling the visitor feels a restistance if he tries to add an element to molecule that is impossible.
The input device was developed by MA Götz Wintergerst and MA Ron Jagodzinski inside the framework of the research project called haptICS at the HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd (University of Applied Science). The hardware enables a simulation of mass through a haptic feedback and supports the visualisation of the temperatur by a targeted vibration.

„Chemieraum“ enthuses teens to engage more towards the world of chemistry. The whole interaction is more enjoyable then a chemical experiment at school. Accepted Methods can be supplemented by virtual design techniques in these experiments. Our project should close the gap between the Chemistry and TUMlab exhibitions that are currently taking place at the Deutsche Museum in Munich.

Beside that the „chemieraum“ project could also workout as a additional tool for chemistry education. Pupils which are normally bored by chemistry get attracted by the design and the new way of interacting with this device.

Prof. Hans Krämer and Prof. Jörg Beck | HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd
Prof. Dr. Peter Härter and Dr. Andreas Kratzer | TU-München

Project Partner
Thomas Glaeser, Götz Wintergerst and Ron Jagodzinski | haptICS research group

Adobe Flash, VVVV, Arduino